On Alfred Mainzer Cats Dressed As People Postcards, Take Two
July 20, 2013 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Well, as the old links are all now dead, I guess that it's time to repost On Alfred Mainzer Cats Dressed As People Postcards...

For one thing, Eugen Hurtung deserves a nod...

See also The Alfred Mainzer Company and the Dressed Animal Art of Eugen Hartung, a Critical Analysis

All the same, on the average, wow, the cards in my collection are now worth six times what I paid for them back in the day -- one of my few sound investments.

Interesting, too, are the social roles of siamese cats in Hurtung's -- or, if you will, Hartung's -- paintings. Now, there's a subject worthy of critical analysis...

--and, furthermore...
posted by y2karl (30 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was going to say that the Siamese cat in this picture is a counter-example, but now I think s/he's actually a manicurist or something. Huh.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:38 PM on July 20, 2013


And these ones are couturiers. Damn, now I can't stop seeing it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:42 PM on July 20, 2013


I have a collection of these cards, passed down from my father. I think they're delightful. I didn't know there was a name for the series.
posted by Orinda at 6:52 PM on July 20, 2013


The web used to be so much better in so many ways.
posted by brennen at 7:12 PM on July 20, 2013


Here's the 2004 FPP mentioned above the break with the dead links.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:50 PM on July 20, 2013


Cats having dogs as pets is weird and scary and now I'm kind of freaked out.
posted by mcmile at 8:33 PM on July 20, 2013


Not mention owning poodles and frightened by mice or just plain frightened by mice...
posted by y2karl at 8:43 PM on July 20, 2013


That's the thing. They aren't cats, the are people with cat heads, which I find even more disturbing than a society of cats who play golf and wear clothes.

From all the available evidence,they must have opposable thumbs, which even super intelligent cats would not have. Cats simply would not be able to have reached this Level of technology, or hold golf clubs.

I belive he was envisioning a hellish future of human animal hybrids and genetic manipulation.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:51 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Check out After The Wedding. In this scene we see two catpeople tossing something like Meow Mix or Tender Vittles into the gutter for more catlike hybrids to eat.

Some catpeople wear shoes, and some don't.Based on Baby's Christening, they don't seem to reproduce with each other.

Seems like there is a caste system here, with the more human hybrids at the top.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:09 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Check out After The Wedding.

That (the one on the middle right) is the weirdest one. You have the cat couple in the coach, which is driven by a dressed-up dog, and pulled by naked dogs. All the cats are bipedal except one, who is just a regular quadrupedal cat swatting at some marbles like a regular quadrupedal cat would...in a dress.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:29 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


which is driven by a dressed-up dog

Holy shit. Didn't even notice the dogperson. So we have a dogperson using dogs to pull a carriage.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:34 PM on July 20, 2013


Wain's world, Wain's world, party time, excellent, weeeew weeew weeeew!
posted by not_on_display at 9:36 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey, these are the paintings I stare at in my vet's office every time I go! I always sort of wondered what the deal was with them. They're good subjects for detailed inspection - there's a ton going on. (Although the top two, which are the ones in the small room we usually end up in, aren't exactly soothing...)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:42 PM on July 20, 2013


Salad Course

Catpeople and dogpeople eating salad together. Of all the things they could be eating they are eating salad.

Its like Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, the more you look the deeper the crazy.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:44 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh my god. An old relative had some of these in her house and I always found them fascinating. They disappeared at some point, and I just had a hazy but vivid memory of them. Wow, so many and varied they were, and all terribly weird and just... odd in general. Thanks so much, I had totally forgotten about them!
posted by gemmy at 10:34 PM on July 20, 2013


It must be true I saw a picture.
posted by adamvasco at 10:50 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's already started. I knew we would have stopped science before it went too far.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:09 PM on July 20, 2013


In this scene we see two catpeople tossing something like Meow Mix or Tender Vittles into the gutter for more catlike hybrids to eat.

All the cats are bipedal except one, who is just a regular quadrupedal cat swatting at some marbles like a regular quadrupedal cat would...in a dress.

Are you guys telling me that as kids, you never dove after (cellophane-wrapped) hard candies thrown from a parade float? To me, that is the obvious interpretation of what is going on in "After the Wedding"—apparently a variation on the tradition of the wedding party throwing coins into the assembled crowd as they leave the church. The children in the post-wedding scene are not quadrupedal; they're diving on all fours to pick up the goodies. (Note that in the first link, the writer describes how "Everyone usually scrabbles on the ground" to pick up the coins.) Apart from that, they may appear more "cat-like" because their ankles and tails are exposed, while the wedding party's formal dress covers more of their anatomy, which is consistent with traditional human (Euro-American) wedding dress.

Although there is clearly a social hierarchy in many of the Mainzer images, I'm not convinced that it's depicted in terms of the characters being more or less cat-like. The children and working class characters are more likely to be depicted shoeless or in shorter skirts and pants, but that seems to me to be reasonably consistent with European and American human dress practices in the early 20th century era evoked by the art. (Young and working class humans of the time wouldn't generally go shoeless, perhaps, but they would be dressed in a less formal manner.) The action of the scene often has characters falling down (as in Splat!) or kneeling (as in the fitting room scenes), but that doesn't make them quadrupedal.

I do think y2carl has a good point about the entertainer cats often being depicted as Siamese, though.

Based on Baby's Christening, they don't seem to reproduce with each other.

I don't understand your logic. It seems obvious to me that in both "Baby's Christening" scenes, the baby is being held by its mother under the proud gaze of its father. Now, the cat-person reproduction seems to produce just one baby at a time (as is the norm for humans) rather than a litter, but I don't see any indication that "they don't seem to reproduce with each other."
posted by Orinda at 12:36 AM on July 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a small collection of originals with the deckled edges and everything. I wonder what they're worth, but more importantly I wish I could stare at them in person right now (they're currently in a storage locker 5500 miles away).

They're proof that cats are weird (not that we needed any).
posted by iamkimiam at 12:40 AM on July 21, 2013


I don't understand your logic. It seems obvious to me that in both "Baby's Christening" scenes, the baby is being held by its mother under the proud gaze of its father. Now, the cat-person reproduction seems to produce just one baby at a time (as is the norm for humans) rather than a litter, but I don't see any indication that "they don't seem to reproduce with each other."

I meant across caste. Seems like both parents are either shoe wearing cat people or non shoe wearing cat people
posted by Ad hominem at 1:38 AM on July 21, 2013


Are you guys telling me that as kids, you never dove after (cellophane-wrapped) hard candies thrown from a parade float? To me, that is the obvious interpretation of what is going on in "After the Wedding"—apparently a variation on the tradition of

I knew it was some kind of food.Hard candies are of course hard food. It is being tossed into the gutter as you might feed a stray.

Although there is clearly a social hierarchy in many of the Mainzer images, I'm not convinced that it's depicted in terms of the characters being more or less cat-like. The children and working class characters are more likely to be depicted shoeless or in shorter skirts and pants

The recipient's posture, grovelling on all fours, makes them seem less human, more animalistic despite the clothes. Much closer to cats than the catpeople riding along, tossing them hard food.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:46 AM on July 21, 2013


Clearly influenced Dogs And Their Hats, and Cats In Bomber Jackets (SLYT, from about 0:48).
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:12 AM on July 21, 2013


As a young child, I received a "Streetside Cafe" postcard (scroll to bottom). I studied it deeply and it stayed on my bullion board through high school. I swear it made me want to live in either New York or Paris and also convinced me that dogs were obnoxious and rowdy louts.
posted by carmicha at 4:22 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some animals are more equal than others.
posted by acb at 5:14 AM on July 21, 2013


Catpeople and dogpeople eating salad together. Of all the things they could be eating they are eating salad.

Not to eat fish or flesh, that is the Law! Are we not Men?

Not to suck up drink, that is the Law! Are we not Men?

Not to go on all fours, that is the Law! Are we not Men?
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:50 AM on July 21, 2013


Photos of cats and dogs* dressed as people, by Harry Whittier Frees

* and occasional bunnies
posted by moonmilk at 6:58 AM on July 21, 2013


I meant across caste. Seems like both parents are either shoe wearing cat people or non shoe wearing cat people

OK, I see your argument more clearly now, although I still am not convinced that there are shoe-wearing and non-shoe-wearing "castes" being depicted. I think shoes vs. non-shoes is more a matter of depicting the characters' relative formality of dress consistently within a scene.

I was going to say that the Siamese cat in this picture is a counter-example, but now I think s/he's actually a manicurist or something. Huh.

I don't think so. The items on the table are a bottle and two matching cup and saucer sets, suggesting to me that the Siamese cat was sharing a drink with the black and white cat on an equal social basis. The Siamese cat and the black and white cat are wearing identical (except for color) slippers, and the Siamese cat is dressed very similarly to the cats on the swing. I don't see any signals that the Siamese cat is not an equal part of the social scene here.

In this case, the Siamese cat with her necklace, bracelet, and fancy cigarette holder reads to me as a peer of the customer being fitted, not one of the tailors. Her skirt suit is well-fitted with expensive details such as pleats and patch pockets, in contrast to the tailor cat's loosely fitted, un-detailed dress.

In "Art Class" (upper left), "Leapfrog," and "Math Class" (all on this page), Siamese cats appear to be participating in the social scene on an equal basis. In "Fashion Show", there are two Siamese cats among the well-heeled spectators, and in "Streetside Cafe", there's a Siamese musician but also a Siamese customer. There's also a Siamese cat depicted as an upper-crust guest in "Wedding Pictures". So, I don't think the depiction of Siamese cats as a distinct lower class is consistent across the Mainzer postcards.

But I do think y2karl is onto something in noticing the consistently Siamese entertainers in certain scenes. In this scene they appear to be coded as Roma; in this scene their colorpoint markings are suggestive of blackface entertainers (although notice the female Siamese cat with high heels and a cigarette holder among the guests at the table in the background); and in this circus scene the "exotic" Siamese cats seem to stand in for traveling Chinese acrobats.
posted by Orinda at 8:03 AM on July 21, 2013


I can't be the only one here who is disappointed that these are illustrations. Right?

Right?
posted by slogger at 8:05 AM on July 22, 2013


Well, slogger....
posted by moonmilk at 4:37 PM on July 22, 2013


In this scene they appear to be coded as Roma...

Carny was my take but both work with that wagon.
posted by y2karl at 1:36 PM on July 30, 2013


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